Medi-Cal Officials Tied To Trips Funded by Rx Industry Groups
Three California officials responsible for the distribution of billions of dollars in Medi-Cal prescription drug spending failed to report travel and other gifts paid for by not-for-profit business groups that receive funding from pharmaceutical industry executives, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, conducted the investigation into the undisclosed gifts.
Business Group Details
The travel was sponsored by the American Medicaid Pharmacy Administrators Association and its regional chapters.
The not-for-profit business groups exist primarily to organize conferences and meetings. They raise money by charging registration fees of up to $2,000 per person to drug company representatives and other people that do business with state Medicaid programs.
California Watch found that since 2005, drug company executives have contributed about $1.8 million to the business groups to help cover convention attendance costs for Medicaid pharmacy directors.
Medi-Cal Officials in Question
New gift reporting requirements administered by California's Fair Political Practices Commission found that Medi-Cal pharmacy officials participated in four such trips during the last six months of 2009.
Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Norman Williams said the department will correct the omissions for those trips and others that should have been reported as gifts.
Pilar Williams, head of the pharmacy division at DHCS, was among the officials to accept the trips. Williams has a direct role in negotiating rebates with pharmaceutical companies and is partially responsible for deciding which drugs the state dispensed to Medi-Cal recipients during the past three years.
The other DHCS officials were J. Kevin Gorospe, former head of the pharmacy policy division, and Diane Furukawa.FPPC executive director Roman Porter indicated that the DHCS could face a fine of up to $5,000 if the lapses in Medi-Cal reporting are found to constitute a violation of California's political reform act (Jewett, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/1). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.